Fifteen years ago, a couple faced an unplanned pregnancy. The parents were both 16 years old. As the father says, “we were both terrified and we weren’t capable or ready to provide this child with the stability or guidance that she deserved and needed.” So they made the life-giving decision to place their daughter in an open adoption.
According to the father, the day his daughter Belle was born “galvanized my life in a way I could never have imagined.” He has visited her every year of her life and talks with her on Christmas and birthdays. He writes that “Belle is happy, and she is smart, and I know what music she likes and that she’s good at field hockey, and I know her dog’s name is Cody and that she loves elephants, and I still get to tell her she can’t date anyone until she’s thirty, and that’s enough for me.”
BraveLove, a movement that exists to encourage adoption, tells the story of Belle and many other brave couples who chose to place their children with loving families through adoption. One thing all such couples have in common is their sacrificial desire to do what is best for their children. On this day after Father’s Day, let’s consider two ways to serve our families and others with such love and grace.
First, we must guard our own souls. We cannot give others what we do not possess. Private sins do not stay that way for long. Consider a group of New York City strippers who made the news recently by scamming wealthy men. They spiked their drinks with illegal synthetic drugs, drove them to strip clubs, and ran up tens of thousands of dollars on their credit cards. If the men complained, the women threatened to expose them to their wives. “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
Second, we must seek the help and guidance of God. Consider the man who had to be rescued off the California coast after trying to kayak almost 2,400 miles to Hawaii. The Coast Guard says “he is very lucky to be alive.” His attempt serves as a parable for all who are tempted by self-sufficiency. We cannot climb up to God, but he can climb down to us. Our Father knows the challenges of being a father, and invites us to share them with him.
I’ve been reading Calvin Miller’s An Owner’s Manual for the Unfinished Soul, and found the moving story of an elderly rabbi who complained to God that he had no child. God gave him the ability to carve a table leg into a boy. His child criticized and ridiculed the rabbi even as he was being formed. When he was finished, the boy set fire to the rabbi’s house and jumped through the window, never to return.
The rabbi complained to God that his child had been so difficult. God reminded the rabbi, “I had a daughter—my first daughter—who ran off with a snake and then gave birth to a murderer.” He concluded, “now you know the burden of God, do you not?”
God knows the burden of being a Father. But he also knows its joys. As we ask him to help us serve our children and others with love and integrity, he will help us become what we long to be. And over time, Augustine’s wisdom will be proven true in our character and lives: “Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”